When we reflect on our day, it’s often negative events that stick in our minds—the undone tasks, mistakes, or criticisms—because the human brain has a negativity bias. When I first heard this, I felt relief: Phew, it’s not just me! A negativity bias is baked into us through evolution.
I first heard the "Chant of Good Will" at a meditation retreat. Each night, a hundred of us chanted the loving-kindness phrases. The simplicity and repetition of these words allowed me to quickly take them into my heart. The practice came home with me. I sing the chant while driving, doing household chores, or setting up chairs for meditation class. And if I'm feeling frustrated or judgmental, I chant. It brings me back to love and intention.
Over 15 years, I've made huge leaps. Yet each leap contained countless small steps. The path from self-aversion to self-compassion is gradual. It's hard to pinpoint a single moment, but eventually I had appropriate tools and enough practice, and my heart shifted. When I revert to old habits, I trust there's a safe space within me: I re-connect with breath and awareness.
I'm deeply grateful for my new career: As a mindfulness teacher, I can’t escape my own crap. I’m continually called out, not by people but by awareness itself. When I prepare a class on self-compassion, I see multiple ways in which I’m harsh or judgmental, and then I choose differently: I practice forgiveness. When the topic is gratitude, I notice many ways that I protect my heart, and then I choose differently: I practice generosity.
Two months ago, I wrote a post entitled, "It's Okay to not be Okay." This seemed an important recognition both for me and the world. We needn't pretend we're okay when we're not. Be messy, real, raw, vulnerable, lonely, or sad. Be however you are. And try to meet others there, too.